Monday, 25 February 2013

Tory Bypass Consultation A Sham

Ely Underpass, Artists Impression
Liberal Democrat County Councillor, Nigel Bell has accused the Tories of planning a sham consultation on Ely bypass by pushing their favoured scheme and not giving residents full details of the alternatives.

The consultation is being launched next month and a leaflet will be sent out to homes; but there is no mention of the alternative scheme to deepen the current underpass at the level crossing.

Instead, the county council has paid lip service to alternatives by only mentioning and dismissing another alternative ‘hidden bypass’ scheme which combines a bypass with an underpass under the railway.

Cllr Bell, who represents Ely North and West said: “The deepened underpass project is supported by the county Liberal Democrats and was considered in the original appraisal of options; yet it doesn’t even get a mention in the consultation.

“This is the option that the Tories don’t want the residents to see because it makes more sense environmentally and could be put in place faster. This consultation will be a complete sham.”

The deepened underpass would be:

  • Far less environmentally damaging and would not destroy the ‘quintessential views’ and the historic setting of Ely Cathedral.
  • It would not require planning permission, unlike the bypass which will require an expensive and time-consuming planning process and public Inquiry.
  • It would cost about the same as the bypass.
  • English Heritage oppose the bypass scheme and prefer an underpass solution. They would take the bypass scheme to a Public Inquiry if the county council pursued it.
  • East Cambridgeshire District Council’s emerging Local Plan states that Ely Railway Station should become a public transport hub, and the deepened underpass option would allow public transport to directly access this. The bypass, however, would create a large diversion for buses travelling to and from Soham .
  • A deepened underpass would attract exactly the same levels of outside funding as any bypass scheme.

Cllr Bell added: “Residents should be given the full details of both schemes for solving the traffic problems in this area; but instead the Conservatives are pushing their own scheme while paying lip service to alternatives.

“Deepening the underpass would remove delays at the level crossing, allow better traffic flow and not damage the environment. It should be given serious consideration.”

Artist’s impressions of the deepening of the underpass, as well as other information related to the project, can be found here: http://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/D3A03A35-F63D-4F27-A177-D298294F3B78/0/SettingStudyPart2.pdf